London Hotels Articles

April 29, 2010

How to save money while visiting London

Visiting the home of Big Ben and the Queen Mother may not be as expensive as you think. If you’ve always dreamt of seeing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, you can make it happen with a little careful planning and determination.

HOW TO VISIT LONDON ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET:

HOSTELS:

St. Christopher’s Inn, Globetrotters, Wake-Up and YHA are all nice hostels located right in the heart of London. They’ll give you nice accomodations for a fraction of what hotels or B & B’s will cost you. Avoid going through an agency to book a reservation at one (they’ll add fees). Instead, contact the hostel’s direct. Get contact information through www.visitlondon.com, or google the individual hostel name.

COLLEGES:

That’s right. If you’re going to be visiting London during university holidays (while students are away) these make great inexpensive places to bed down for the night. King’s College and City University are both highly recommended. Contact them directly for times they book these rooms to tourists.

SHOWS:

London is second only to New York City when it comes to great live-stage shows. My husband once saw James Stewart perform “Harvey” live on stage in London while he was there on tour with a college group many years back. Just as you can get leftover tickets for half-price or less on Broadway (if you wait until right before showtime) you can do the same in London. TKTS in Leicester Square has many half price ticket shows in the evenings.

FOOD:

There are a great many inexpensive restaurants in London. Avoid the trendy “fish and chips” style restaurants and go for something like “Wagamamas” (an inexpensive Japanese Noodle restaurant that uses fresh ingredients and has a buzzy atmosphere). Back plenty of snack crackers and peanut butter inside your suitcase before you leave home, taking time to eat only one restaurant meal per day.

HAPPY HOURS:

Two for one drinks and free hor d’oeuvres. Need I say more? This is how an aunt and uncle got a free lunch each day they were in London. They each ordered one drink, paid for one and filled up on cheese trays, nuts and the like. It held them over well until dinner, when they would go out to a restaurant for a “real” meal.

STREET MARKETS

Forget the trendy tourist shops that put a high price on everything they sale. Try Old Spitalfields Market (vintage clothes, jewelry, arts, crafts) or Greenwich Market (unique arts and crafts on Thursday-Sunday) instead. You’ll get better merchandise at a fraction of the cost.

FREEBIES

The really beautiful thing about London is that everything you really want to see (like the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace) is absolutely free of charge! Here’s just a taste of the free attractions:

*BUCKINGHAM PALACE (changing of the guards every other day at 11:30 am)

*MARTIN-IN-THE-FELD CHURCH (free lunchtime concerts on Mon, Tues and Fri)

*NATIONAL GALLERY (largest collection of European paintings in the world)

*NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

*BRITISH MUSEUM (London’s most visited museum)

*NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM IN GREENWICH

*OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE

*ROYAL OBSERVATORY IN GREENWICH PARK

*QUEEN’S HOUSE (built by Indigo Jones for the Stuart Queens Anne of Denmark and Henrietta Maria)

Monument, the world’s highest free-standing stone column, only cost 1.50 pounds to see. There are many other very low-cost attractions such as this.

Now all you have to do is make sure you have a current passport and find the cheapest flight you can. If you really want to travel inexpensively, may I recommend swimming across the Atlantic? Cheers!

Sources:

www.golondon.about.com

www.corporate.visitlondon.com

www.aardvarktravel.net

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